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  • Tyler Klein

'CROYA Will Always Be a Part of Me'

By Tyler Klein This essay by Tyler Klein -- a 2024 graduate of Lake Forest High School -- won the Margot Martino Spirit of CROYA award. After having my freshman year of high school taken away, I was eager to try something new. I wanted to be vulnerable. Starting my CROYA experience in September of my sophomore year, I was excited as I sat down to hear what the people had to say at the meeting about CROYA. Being told to stand up if it's your first CROYA meeting makes anyone's heart sink as they have no idea what the parliamentarians are going to ask. That is the feeling I so desperately wanted going into my sophomore year. And it was given right to me.

"My eyes were opened to the impact that I could have on others, and I wanted to make that my grail," says Tyler Klein, shown at a CROYA service project.

It was hard at first adapting to being busy every Wednesday night from 7 p.m.-8 p.m. But what was to come was so worth it. Slowly over time, CROYA started becoming a very important part of my life. I wanted to hold onto this thing that was CROYA and cherish it. I wanted to know how far I could go. When I was first introduced to the retreats, it allowed me to put myself out there exactly how I pictured it. It made me feel so many new emotions that I had never felt before. Thanks to many great leaders over the years, as well as numerous peer training classes, I was taught what it meant to be a good leader and was allowed the opportunity to be a retreat leader in the fall of my junior year. Here is where I found out what CROYA means to me. CROYA means the world.

My eyes were opened to the impact that I could have on others, and I wanted to make that my grail. Being a young 15-year-old, I didn't know that I had this ability to impact other young CROYA kids my age. However, where I saw this impact first hand was on the first retreat that I led. It was there that I understood that being in a leadership position, I could really benefit others. A saying that stuck with me since my very first peer training class is to “close your mouth and open your ears.”  This is when I realized how powerful being a good listener can be. This is one of the things that I worked really hard on to achieve as a CROYA kid. People no matter their age want to be heard. Whether that be something going on at home, or something stressing you out at school, having someone there that you can talk to is one thing. But someone who really hears you can make an impact.

As my experience with CROYA grew, so did the realization that it didn't matter if I was at a Wednesday night meeting or a retreat. What I had learned was that these moments of connection with other CROYA kids can happen anywhere, at any time, in anyone's world. Whether it be in the hallways saying “Hi” or asking someone in the lunchroom how they're doing. The CROYA connections went well past the walls of the CROYA building. The connections went into my world.

And as I enter the life ahead of me after high school, I know CROYA will always be a part of me. And I have a feeling that when I wake up on Wednesday mornings, wherever I am in the world, I will reach for some sort of CROYA merch and be reminded that my connections to CROYA aren't really that far away.


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